Teaching surpasses the realms of jobs or professionsit encompasses service, vocation, and life mission.

Proving this day and night are millions of Filipino teachers who stand as second mothers to students. One of them is Rosalie Macaspac, an SM scholar alumna who chose to pursue a career in Special Education (SPED).

Lifes work

Choosing to teach, especially pursue SPED, is a path less travelled. Out of over 800,000 public school teachers, only about 4,000 are in SPED, and Rosalie is one of the few who took the path. For 21 years now, the SM scholar alumna has dedicated her life to teaching SPED students. She wanted to empower and give special children a voice by advocating the welfare of deaf learners.

Rosalie Macaspac (left) interprets the contents of the program for her students.

With much dedication and determination to have the right skills for her students, she pursued graduate studies in special education and Filipino sign language at the Philippine National University and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, respectively. 

She currently teaches at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay, the only government-owned institution for the deaf in the country. Here, she spearheaded the numeracy skills training program for deaf learners.

Embedding grit, greatness

Her journey to becoming an educator was not easy. Her parents separated when she was three years old, and her mother became the breadwinner. 

In the early years of my life as a three year old, awareness of how hard life is became a part of my growing up. I grew up with a mindset that whatever happens, I will not abandon my studies. Sensing my determination, my mother earned a living by washing and ironing clothes of our neighbors. I came to realize my mom had to wash and press thousands and thousands of clothes so I could finish my studies. But I did not pity myself. Instead, I kept a strong determination to battle on and promised my mother that she will not grow old and die as a laundry woman, she said.

The weight on their shoulder became heavier when her mother became bedridden for half a year. Instead of slowing her down, it did the opposite. She continued her studies with much determination. With the help of her uncle, the Missionaries of Charity, and the puto bigas she sold, they could get by. 

She finished primary school with good grades, and was a consistent honor student in high school, despite having one centavo allowance and rice and coffee as meals. With good standing, she had her mind set on her next goal: going to college.

Giving up or surrendering wasnt in my vocabulary. The strong heart of my mother was passed on to me as she was my inspiration to strive to get us out of the predicament we were in, she stressed.

When I was in fourth year high school, I was deep in thought of what to do to support my college education. Then, God in all His goodness, stepped in again. The Guidance Office in our school announced that the SM Foundation was offering scholarships for qualified students. I knew at that very moment that He was with me. All I had to do is to apply for the scholarship, she recalled.

Rosalie (fifth from left) and her fellow scholar alumni take a photo with SMIC Executive Director Harley Sy (third from left)

She vividly remembers sending her SM College Scholarship program application at the Customer Service of the SM in Quiapo and how she learned on May 9, 1995 that she would be interviewed for the scholarship in room 214 of the MSE Bldg. The three-digit number has since become unforgettable for her. By June 1995, Macaspac was among the SM scholars who had started their college education under the scholarship program.

According to her, the scholarship helped her become a well-rounded individual. It was the key to the realization of her dreams and paved the way to success. The activities provided by SM Foundation, such as the scholars assembly, the orientation, leadership training, sports fest and annual retreat, were very memorable for her.

Looking back, the retreats, monthly meetings and being able to work in SM as an employee, followed up by our project director boosted my self-esteem and opened my world to service, she said.

Rosalie at the Philippine School for the Deaf

Before teaching, she first worked as a Merchandise and Planning Control-Clerk at the SM Head Office, which was then located in Calle Echague, Manila. She was hired immediately after college.

Working in DepEd has always been her dream, and she is proud of where she is today: Since day one of my college days, I aimed to be a public-school teacher. I am happy with my work now as a High School Teacher for Deaf learners. I am so privileged that I am in this community and my heart is entwined with my students.

I am not ashamed to tell my colleagues that I had a humble beginning and I thank SM Foundation for putting me where I am now. I owe these blessings to SM, Henry Tatang Sy, SM Foundation, Maam Nilda Bernaldez, and my fellow SM-Scholars, most especially, my mother. They are all the instruments to why I chose to give back to a special community and dedicate my life to being an effective SPED teacher.

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